Over the past two years, I have transformed into an online shopper. Not only did I discover that some eBay vendors deliver to Lebanon — where I currently live — but I also came across Borderlinx and their shipping services, and I fell for the excitement of Indiegogo and Kickstarter product backing.
As my habits changed, I tried manually tracking my payments and shipments, but I soon had to give up as it was too much work. I eventually resorted to simply hoping I wasn’t paying a lot instead of using personal finance apps, and relied on good ol’ Google Now to track some of my shipments while manually checking the ones that Now didn’t smartly detect.
But I was recently introduced to Slice, an app which sole purpose is to simplify the life of people like me, who shop online quite frequently. Not only does it keep track of how much I’m spending online and organize my purchases by type and vendor, it also notifies me when any of my purchases is shipping and lets me track its progress. The app also just got updated with a fresh tablet-optimized interface, making it my ultimate shopping companion.
How Slice Works
Slice’s magic relies in mining your email inbox for received receipts and shipment details. If your online vendor sends a confirmation email for every purchase as well as shipment tracking, Slice is highly likely to find that information and extract it into the app. That way, you don’t have to manually enter any data — although the option is still available should Slice miss a purchase or shipment email — and you are not restricted to any specific vendors.
Connecting Slice with your inbox is a matter of signing in and allowing it access, and Slice works with Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, iCloud and a few others. The “mining” part depends on how many emails you have and how many purchases you made, but it normally doesn’t take more than ten or so minutes. After that, Slice will keep monitoring your inbox for any incoming receipts or tracking numbers and update the data accordingly.
Your Purchases, Organized
There are two major sections in Slice: the purchase list and the current shipments. Both are equally simple to use and well designed to show you the most important data. Little touches like an overlay box to tell you a package’s shipping status in the purchase list and a quick filter option to find a specific item show you that the developers took care in crafting their app.
Every item on the list is displayed with a nice thumbnail image that Slice tries to find automatically but can also be changed manually. The name and price are also readily available. But it’s only when you open the details page that you get the full Slice experience. The app does a fantastic job of retrieving all the relevant information it can find from the receipt email including the vendor, order number, purchase date and quantity, along with a fairly accurate guess at the purchase’s type and category. It also attaches the corresponding email to the item for easy access.
As for the shipments, Slice displays the status, courier, tracking info, delivery address, along with a map of the package’s current location and its destination. It’s simply beautiful.
Manual Corrections Are Easy
The beauty of using Slice relies in its automatic behind-the-scenes work to find the data for you but as with any smart service, mistakes are bound to occur. Normally, I’d spend hours trying to rectify the errors but Slice even makes that quite easy. Here are the different adjustments I was able to do in a few seconds:
- Add a purchase or a shipment that wasn’t automatically detected by Slice.
- Change a product’s image if the assigned one doesn’t suit me.
- Change any of the product’s details, like the category or type — especially for Indiegogo and Kickstarter payments which are marked as “payment” but can sometimes be a “shippable purchase”.
- Delete products in case of duplicates — this happens mostly with Amazon Payments’ authorization email followed by the actual payment email.
Given its intricate knowledge of your purchases, Slice has the best seat in the house to track product recalls and price drops. Both are monitored closely for your physical goods, and you get notified so you know when to return a product or ask for price matching and reimbursement.
A few other bonus features are specific to the phone version of Slice for now as the tablet version doesn’t seem to support them yet:
- A shopping profile: a graphic representation of the amount of money you spent and items you’ve bought according to types and categories, along with a short analysis of what they say about your shopping habits.
- An item and expense tally of your purchases, displayed on top of the item list.
- Filters by merchants and categories, along with an updating upper bar tally. This makes it easy to know how much you’ve spent at a specific vendor or on certain types of items.
I can talk for hours about how simple Slice is, how much it streamlined my online purchasing routine and how, in only a few days of use, I have found enough value to install it on all of my Android devices. But the only way to convince you of the app’s benefits is to tell you to try it for yourself. After all, it’s free and takes only a few minutes to set up.